Archive for the ‘Christmas Cookies’ Category

Christmas Cookies

December 5, 2009

There are times when we’ve just got to give in to the holidays and make yummy Christmas cookies.  We give them as gifts, and make sure to have enough for ourselves too.  If you have cookie recipes to share (YUM) put them in comments.  Here, in no particular order of preference, are the cookies that help it be Christmas for us:

SPICE COOKIES

(This recipe came from Audrey Bishop, who used to work with my mother 50+ years ago, and they may be my most favorite cookie other than the oatmeal lace cookies.)

¾ cup shortening ( use butter)

1 cup sugar

1 egg

¼ cup dark molasses

2 tsp baking soda

2 cups flour

¼ tsp salt

1 heaping tsp cinnamon

¾ tsp cloves

¾ tsp ginger

Dash of cayenne (optional, but a pinch, maybe 1/8 tsp, adds a bit of “zing”)

Cream butter and sugar, add egg and mix.  Mix soda and molasses (this will foam up a bit) and add to the butter mixture.  Stir in dry ingredients and blend.  Cover the dough and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight.  (I always chill it overnight.)

Keeping the dough cold, pick off small pieces (about the size of a hazelnut in the shell for smaller cookies, and up to a walnut for larger) and roll in the palms of your hands, forming balls.  (I put the dough back into the fridge after each pan or two.)  Roll the balls in granulated sugar.  Place on cookie sheet and bake in a 325° F oven.  Cookies will look darkened, crackled, and flattened when done.

With my oven and a “medium size” cookie it takes about 10 or 12 minutes, but flattened, crackled and darkened is what to look for.  Remove cookies from pan onto wax paper.  I’ve just discovered those silicone baking mats and the cookies bake perfectly on them.  If you’re a fool like me and get the large size by mistake that’s too big to fit your cookie sheets you can also cool them on those sheets (reusable) instead of wax paper.

I use non-latex (some folks are allergic) examining gloves when I roll the dough into balls because it doesn’t stick to the gloves and it WILL stick to the palms of your hands.  I usually use regular granulated sugar to roll them in because that’s what I have in the house, but “crystal” sugar (larger granules, sometimes sold colored or as “coffee sugar”) works very well, and gives a bit of a “sparkly, holiday” look to the cookies.  Don’t bother with colored sugar, though, because the cookies are dark enough it won’t really show.

RICH CHOCOLATE DROPS

½ cup butter, melted

½ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

3 squares of unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

¾ cup all purpose flour

½ tsp baking soda

Mix all ingredients together.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets.  Bake in a moderate oven (375° F) 8 to 10 minutes.  A hazelnut-sized spoonful of dough will flatten out into about a 2 to 2½ inch cookie.  These bake beautifully on those silicone baking sheets.

These really couldn’t be easier.  I usually let the batter sit for about 10 or 15 minutes to let it “tighten up” a bit.  When I could find it in the store in New York City where I used to live I used a product called “Nestle Choco-Bake,” which was pre-melted 1 oz packs of baking chocolate.  I haven’t seen it in the stores down here, but the Nestle web site assures me they should have it.  Added after Christmas 2008 — I found Choco-Bake in the store after Christmas and I pretty much bought the store out for 2009.  YAY!!  It just makes the whole process quicker, easier and neater, and there is absolutely no difference in the flavor.

PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES WITH CHOCOLATE STARS

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup creamy peanut butter

¼ cup butter, softened

¼ cup shortening

1 egg

1½ cups flour

¾ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

Granulated sugar

Milk chocolate stars (Brach’s is the brand I’ve seen)

Heat oven to 375°.  Stir together ½ cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, peanut butter, butter, shortening and egg.  (This sounds to me like cream butter, shortening and peanut butter, add sugars, then egg.)  Stir in flour baking soda and baking powder.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls, and roll in granulated sugar.  Place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are light brown.  Immediately press 1 chocolate star firmly in each cookie, cool on wire rack.

For a peanuttier, slightly bumpier cookie use crunchy peanut butter.

TOLL HOUSE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

2¼ cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually beat in the flour mixture.  Stir in the chips and nuts.  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

OATMEAL LACE COOKIES

Sift together into a smallish bowl:

½ cup flour

¼ tsp baking powder

½ cup sugar

Then add:

½ cup quick cooking oats

2 Tbsp heavy cream

2 Tbsp light corn syrup

1/3 cup melted butter (for this recipe it must be butter, margarine won’t work right)

1 Tbsp vanilla  (yes, a tablespoon)

Mix until well blended, then drop on ungreased baking sheet 4 inches apart, using ¼ to ½ tsp measuring spoon as a measure.  Bake in a moderate oven, 350° to 375°, 6 – 8 minutes, until lightly browned.  Let stand for a few minutes before removing from the pan.  Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

While for most cookies I’m a great fan of Silpat silicone baking sheets, don’t use them for this recipe.  The cookies don’t get as lacy as they do on a regular cookie sheet.  If the cookies cool for too long and start to crack when you’re taking them off the sheets pop them back into the oven for a few seconds to warm them up and they should soften enough to remove.  If you’re quick, and have asbestos fingers, this is the type of cookie that can be rolled around the handle of a wooden spoon or, if you make them large enough, draped over the bottoms of muffin pans to make cups.

OATMEAL SCOTCHIES COOKIES

1¼ cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups quick cooking oats

1-2/3 cups butterscotch morsels

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl.  Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large mixer bowl.  Gradually beat in the flour mixture.  Stir in oats and morsels.  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies, or 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies.  Cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely.

I have a well-developed sweet tooth, but these are a little too sweet even for me.  However, when the suggestion was made that we might not make these this year a wail of protest went up from a number of people who just love them.  So they remain in the annual Christmas cookie repertoire.

This is the collection of cookies that we do every year without fail.  We also usually try at least one “new” cookie to see if it’s worthy to be added to our repertoire.  This year Mr. Marion in Savannah is going to try Sand Cookies, which sound like pecan sandies to me from looking at the recipe.  Being a fan of pecans I’m drooling already, and will report how they turn out.  I hope you find something to try here.   And share your favorites in comments — we’re always looking for new noms!